Gadji, magical anchorage in New-Caledonia

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Before we set off for our round the world voyage, we went out every weekend, to improve our sailing techniques. The distance we sailed depended on what time I got out of school on the Friday. My parents sometimes made me miss school on the Monday, when the wind turned to the west. I knew then that we were going to go to the Ile des Pins…

For us, the 60 nautical miles from the Port du Sud marina was a very long sail. We thus let our catamaran carry us peacefully towards this land covered in columnar pines, often goosewinged. 

This famous anchorage is the one we preferred. We could anchor here in less than 2 meters of water, over several hundred meters, our hulls floating on translucent water. It’s the incredible and exceptional Gadji Bay.

Imagine these ‘mushrooms’ of eroded rock, placed carefully on the water. And all this surrounded by beaches and huge pine trees, on turquoise-tinted water. All you have to do is choose where to drop the hook amongst an almost limitless choice of anchorages.

After a six-year, round the world voyage, we still return there today with the same pleasure, even though we now see things differently. On our return to New Caledonia, we thought we had maybe idealized this anchorage. And it was one of the very first that we visited. But…no! It definitely remains in our top 10 most beautiful anchorages.

Things to do in the anchorage:

Here we favor snorkeling, outings in the dinghy, picnics on the beach…

It's a wild spot, with no houses or shops in sight. There are a few huts, hidden by the vegetation.

On the Ile des Pins, you must above all not miss Kuto bay, overrun with green turtles and dugongs; the natural swimming pool at Oro, a real marine oasis; or Kanumera rock. We went round the island on bicycles – it’s well worth the detour.

Gadji is situated in the north-west of the Ile des Pins, and is perfectly protected from all wind directions. The bay isn’t accessible for all boats. In fact the sandbanks leave just 1.5m of water. Those of you with a deep draft will not be lucky enough to anchor here…

The fine, compact sand provides excellent holding in the anchorage.

Weather check:

In New Caledonia, it’s not very complicated…

The trade winds blow constantly from the south-east, shifting from time to time to the east or the south…

To sail down to the Ile des Pins, leaving from Noumea with this wind, we often have to stop for the night half way (because for us, beating to windward is absolutely not fun).

This is why we wait for the ‘westerly breeze’ - the Caledonian strong wind front, which reverses the trade winds. The perfect moment to sail south.

In this case, we head directly for Kuto bay - very easily accessible even at night - and leave the next day for Gadji, to have perfect visibility when we enter the bay, which is strewn with coral heads (particularly at the entrance to the bay).

The lagoon is often very windy; this mustn’t be taken lightly as it can be quite aggressive. The wind gets up very quickly, and easily and regularly strengthens to 30 knots and more.

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